Guest post written by Sam Cardenas, founder of Peatree. Sam and her sister Jess became so inspired by their gay uncle's journey to parenthood, they decided to create a clothing line for LGBTQ kids.
"Emma is pregnant….with her brother's baby." This was Uncle Brian's favorite way to share that Aunt Emma was a surrogate to Uncle Rafael's baby.
Let's rewind to early 2009, when Uncle Raf & his husband Steve first started researching the adoption process. As same-sex partners, the options were limited and the requirements were different. Prior to the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage, only one parent in a same-sex couple could be recognized as the legal parent in some states. Although the legalization of same-sex marriage allows both partners to be listed as parents, adoption agencies were still able to deny Rafael and Steve on the basis of religious beliefs. Even after finding an agency that would support a same-sex couple, the next steps were just as difficult. Rafael & Steve now faced a significant financial investment in addition to the emotional and mental experience of parenting classes. The process for a gay couple was systematically more difficult than that of a straight couple.
During the summer of 2009, the couple decided to change course to pursue surrogacy instead of adoption, which brought about a new set of challenges. They had to choose an egg donor and a surrogate to birth their child. Overwhelmed with the process, Raf and Steve shared their journey with our family. During one of the many conversations, Rafael's sister, Emma, shared how fond she was of being pregnant and would consider being a surrogate. Then in October of 2009, we found out that Emma agreed to be a surrogate for the couple.
With one major step accomplished, now it was time to choose an egg donor. Donors can be filtered by educational background, profession, physical attributes and so many others. Rafael described the process as a "match.com" for donors. Ultimately, they chose an egg donor who would represent Rafael's heritage because Steve would be the biological parent. This allowed both of them to be represented in their child's genetics.
In the same email Rafael told us Emma would be the surrogate, he also asked for prayers and good vibes because he knew they had a long road ahead. IVF (in vitro fertilization) often takes a minimum of three tries before the probability increases to about 40%. The odds were not in anyone's favor. We truly believe that LOVE & science brought our baby cousin, Olivia, into this world because Emma's body accepted the IVF...
Unheard of! Even the doctor was shocked. To our family, this could only be explained by the miracles of science complemented by our family's overwhelming love for Rafael & Steve. Untethered by societal norms, our family could not be more happy to welcome Olivia into this world in October 2010. One year and 2 weeks from when they announced they started their surrogacy journey, Olivia joined our family.
Naturally, our family was ready to host a baby shower and prep the soon to be parents with gifts! Jessica and Rafael were close in age growing up so it was natural for her to shop for the baby shower. It was difficult to find any décor or gifts that were signs of two dads. She would have to custom order a sign that read "Welcome new Dad & Papa." Similar to Sam, she was disappointed in the heteronormative shopping experience. Sam was shopping in London on a student's budget and would browse the window displays. Baby bodysuits often read "Mommy's Dude," "Daddy's Princess," and other heteronormative sayings. We were raised with the belief that all families are created equal because they come in different forms: two dads, two moms, one dad, one mom, adoption, surrogacy.
Based on our experience, Jessica & I decided to launch, PeaTree, an inclusive and sustainable baby bodysuit brand for our community, by our community. Our first collection is in honor of Steve, Rafael & Olivia. We believe in LGBTQA rights, we believe in sustainability and we believe in immigration. Based on our values, it is important to us that our baby bodysuits (Gerber has a trademark on 'onesie'...womp) are gender neutral, made of 100% organic cotton with non toxic or low impact dye. We're all about dressing cute babies while taking care of Mother Earth. Plus, our onesies are hand sewn in Los Angeles, CA so we can support our local community.
We believe in genuine representation. As an inclusive brand, we seek out designers who identify as LGBTQA+ or women of color because representation matters. In the coming year, we will establish ourselves as a 'must have' brand. We want to be the go-to destination for sweet, whimsical designs that make a bold statement. We want to grow with our customer. The Conways' daughter wore our "Daddies' Little Love" bodysuit as a newborn. We hope to dress her as she grows into a toddler by offering additional sizing. We want PeaTree to be a household brand name.
(As in... We want to hand deliver our influencer package to Andy Cohen at brunch with him and Sarah Jessica Parker.)
Happy Father's Day to all our Gay Dads!
Founder of PeaTree